Posts tagged ‘New Business’

Lamborghini Gallardo SuperleggeraOn 1st March 2011, HMRC finally increased their allowable fuel rates to better reflect the sustantial increases in fuel prices we have all been suffering.

To make sure you are using the correct rate to get maximum tax benefit click here.

 

 

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The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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Everyone in business has heard the term “Cash is King” and understands the importance of cash flow, but when in the day to day ‘busy-ness’ of business it is easy to take your ‘eye off the ball’.

So in these difficult times, if you find yourself in a position where cash flow becomes a matter of urgency rather than a procedural chore, what can you do to turn things around?

Here are my top five quick fixes, each one worthy of a post of its own.

1. Debt Collection

Focusing on getting paid for what you have provided is an obvious place to start. 

Don’t allow customers to improve their cash flow at your cost and don’t get lazy when it comes to implementing rigid credit control procedures. Many ledger clerks are instructed by their managers not to issue payment until a debt has been chased both in writing and verbally, so don’t cut corners or get caught off guard. 

If you are uncomfortable with this discipline or you have accepted that this is not your skill set, outsource it.  I recommend Ken Brown from Direct Route for everything from collecting a single difficult debt to completely managing your sales ledger. 

Also, be sure to focus on servicing customers that do stick to your payment terms.  Don’t forget my previous advice about allowing “he who shouts loudest…” to distract you from those that are key to your success.

2. Improve terms and conditions of sale

Meet with each of your valued customers without delay and renegotiate terms.  By prioritising their needs and building confidence in your business relationship, agreements regarding quick payment, or even payment on delivery can be made. 

If need be, offer an early payment discount to encourage quick settlement.  Often the reduction in margin, is substantailly less than the cost of finance such as overdrafts or the deminished goodwill from not meeting debts as they fall due.

Don’t forget that it costs a lot more to attract and service new business than it does to obtain more business from your current clients.


3.  Get your bank manager onside

Having up to date management accounts, a clearly defined business plan that demonstrates that the current difficulties are short term and building an open, honest business relationship with your bank manager will no doubt create flexibility. 

Once they have built confidence in you as a business owner, they will at short notice be able to offer solutions and support.  Involve your accountant in this process.

4.  Manage suppliers

This aspect is often not given enough attention.  In the same way that you manage customers, prioritise, negotiate and treat your suppliers with respect. 

Being honest with them and honouring any payment arrangements you have agreed with them will keep your integrity and prevent suppliers from ‘digging their heels in’.

Also, if you hold stock, review your processes and speak to your suppliers about delivery times etcetera, they may be able to help you to manage a ‘just in time’ system by offering you a priority service. 

5.  Increase profitability

Certainly not the easiest or quickest approach and one where you might want to seek support from your accountant or a business coach.

Looking at overheads is an obvious point, but how about reviewing historic data to identify which products/services in your sales mix generate the biggest contribution and assign time and effort in pushing these.  Perhaps redirect your marketing budget and reward your team for selling these items or finding innovative ways to deliver these at lower costs.

As well as focusing on your most profitable products/services, take time to identify your most profitable clients

Budgeting can take time, but often some ‘quick wins’ can be discovered by carrying out these accounting exercises.  They can also drive long term process and cash flow improvements. 


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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I am regularly contacted by people who are new to business, or at least considering starting their own business.

Excited

Naturally, they are all really excited about the prospect of working for themselves, being their own boss, making the decisions and being able to directly enjoy the results of their efforts.

Apprehensive

However, I find that when I start to talk them through the statutory accounting and taxation requirements, it becomes obvious that they are worried and some even start to question if they are doing the right thing.  Despite assuring them that my team will handle 

  • Companies House administration anc correspondence,
  • Preparation and submission of statutory accounts,
  • Corporation Tax computations and returns,
  • PAYE administration and National Insurance,
  • VAT reporting,
  • Returns of benefits and expenses and other HMRC returns,
  • Construction industry scheme online monthly filing
  • Potential HMRC visits

and provide ongoing bookkeeping support, it is understandable that the overwhelming sense of responsibility causes concern for those who have been in the relative ‘safety’ of employment or education.

Discouraged?

I think it is a shame that budding entrepreneurs can be stopped in their tracks by all the bureaucracy that surrounds a business, and I would urge any aspiring business owners not to be discouraged, it sounds a lot worse than it really is.

Get support

If you are thinking about starting up your own business, you should really go and talk to an accountant who can explain what is required, help you understand your duties and responsibilities and then take away as much of the fear and worry from you so that you can get on with the exciting bit!

It is also a good idea to join a networking group.  They not only provide you with valuable contacts, they are full of potential friends and peers who can guide and support you with first hand experience.

Find someone you can trust

For some people starting up their own business isn’t a big deal, but remember that the best entrepreneurs are surrounded by the best people for each and every part of their business, so do your new business a favour and find someone who can be the best for you.

Outsource

Delegate the ‘red tape’ of administering your business, and non-essential or non-profit making tasks to a team of carefully selected professionals so that you can make the most of your time and  simply…

…..enjoy running your own business!


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

j0433925There are statistics everywhere confirming that building business with current clients is far cheaper than acquiring new clients. I know this first hand being one who invests an inordinate amount of time networking both online and in ‘the real world’.  Here at George Hay we are regularly agonising over how to best spend our marketing budget, but at the end of the day the cheapest and the best business is that done via a qualified referral.  Also, although winning new business is exhilarating, doing business with clients who like you and appreciate what you do for them is very satisfying.

So what do I do to try and maintain client loyalty and hopefully enthuse them to tell their business associates about my good work?

Stay in touch
First and formost, I have found that clients like to be communicated with and want to “belong” to our organisation.  When clients feel that they are ‘out on a limb’ they are more likely to listen to gossip, be more receptive to your competitors or simply undervalue what you are doing.

Keeping in touch could be as simple as sending a regular newsletter or  involving them in your social media circles.  Of course, your top twenty clients (you do know who they are don’t you?) need more personal and regular attention, but that does not necessarily mean expensive wining and dining.  A simple ‘phone call to find out how things are going is all that it required.

Tell your client as soon as you can if an issue does arise and make sure it is clear how you will be dealing with it.

j0433028If my top clients prepare management information (which of course I encourage) or minutes of board meetings I ask to receive a copy by email so that next time we speak I have a subject matter to discuss that makes them feel good – their business!  This keeps the service personal and hopefully tailored to their needs.  Newsletters, blogs and emails are great ways to communicate messages but they are unlikely to be 100% relevant to your entire client base.  Also in a service environment, clients are buying personalities and a perception of knowledge, not something generated by your marketing team.

 

Remember if clients don’t know what you are doing, they wont want to pay for it.

So keep your clients informed.

You could also use this regular communication to survey clients opinions, if they are valued clients they will be honest with you and help you to appraise your operation, just as you help them with their business, but be warned if you have not made regular contact they may question your motives.

Take responsibility
If an issue does raise it’s ugly head or a mistake happens, correct it at the highest level.  Clients appreciate it when a manager/partner who can and will take action calls, rather than a junior person or an administrator.  Don’t forget an apology is what they are looking for, so make sure you eat humble pie whilst trying to convince them that the problem wont happen again! 

Never try and assign or delegate blame.  As a business person you are responsible for making sure your team are working to look after your clients.  Don’t let one department or staff member criticise another; it is unprofessional and clients will not be reassured.   Remember you have to work with these people, there are enough challenges in business dealing with external factors with out allowing conflict with in the organisation.  If there is a problem, everyone in the business needs to work together to resolve it and implement procedures to prevent it from recurring.

One of the biggest bug-bears of most people in business, I believe, is service professionals that over promise and under deliver, particularly in the early stages of a business relationship when they are trying hard to please or trying to win your business.  This is a major faux pas that most of us, if we are honest, have fallen foul of, so keep clients expectations manageable – and the easiest way to do this? – COMMUNICATE!

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.